N. Korea readying ICBM or nuclear test for Biden visit, officials say


May 19, 2022 at 7:07 a.m. EDT

A satellite image shows a reactor and new excavation activity at North Korea's Yongbon nuclear complex on May 7. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

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SEOUL — North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test or a long-range ballistic missile test around the time of President Biden’s trip to the region this week, according to intelligence from Washington and Seoul.

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White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence reflects a “genuine possibility” that there will be a “long-range missile test or a nuclear test or frankly both” in the days leading up to, during or after Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan.

U.S. warns Pyongyang is preparing for a nuclear or missile test

U.S. intelligence showed there could be a North Korean nuclear test, or missile test, or both, during President Biden's trip to South Korea and Japan. (Video: Reuters)

Seoul’s National Intelligence Service also detected preparations for nuclear and missile tests in the North, South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-keung said after being briefed by the spy agency Thursday.

“Despite the coronavirus situations [in North Korea], there are signs pointing to a missile launch,” Ha told reporters, attributing the information to the spy agency. “The country is also done preparing for a nuclear test and just waiting for the right time.”

Largely unvaccinated North Korea announced a “severe national emergency” since reporting its first official coronavirus case last week. Because of a lack of testing capacity there, the true scale of the outbreak in the reclusive country is unclear, but the state media has estimated nearly 2 million possible cases.

Pyongyang has rebuffed offers of coronavirus aid from Seoul and Washington, South Korean national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo said in a briefing Wednesday. Given Pyongyang’s lack of response, it will be difficult to discuss North Korea aid in the upcoming meeting between Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Kim said.

“If North Korea conducts a long-range missile or nuclear test during Biden’s Seoul visit, it clearly marks a deliberate provocation aimed at extorting concessions from Washington,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

At a railway station in Seoul on May 4, a TV broadcast shows file footage of a North Korean missile test. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

During a summit in 2019, President Donald Trump refused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s demand for sanctions relief in exchange for disarmament steps. North Korea has since rejected Washington’s offer for nuclear talks and ramped up weapons testing activities.

While North Korea would view the presidential summit between South Korea and the United States as a fresh opportunity for provocation, it is unclear whether the country has the bandwidth to carry out a nuclear or long-range missile test, Yang said. Kim Jong Un called this week for a “countrywide anti-epidemic war to fight the severe public health crisis” and even mobilized his military to help with the supply of medicines in Pyongyang.

A nuclear test from North Korea would strike a sour note amid international efforts to provide the country with vaccine doses, medicine and other forms of support, analysts said.

North Korea sees China as its preferred donor for coronavirus aid, said Ha, the lawmaker. He said the United States and South Korea are the last countries from which the North will seek help.

If Pyongyang carries out a serious provocation during Biden’s three-day South Korea visit, the allies can turn to a “plan B” that could alter the summit’s schedule, said Kim Tae-hyo, the national security adviser.

Biden is landing in South Korea on Friday to kick-start his Asia trip, which will focus on strengthening U.S. ties with allies amid growing competition from China.


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< home >   LAST UPDATE: 5-2-2021 

           North Korea - A Clear AND Present DANGER ...


NEWS | May 15, 2018
Nuclear Terrorism: Did We Beat the Odds or Change Them?
By Dr. Graham Allison PRISM Volume 7, no. 3
 [ Dr. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard Kennedy School.] 
...Even if Trump succeeds in halting Kim’s progress short of a credible ICBM threat to the U.S. homeland, which seems unlikely at this point, the threat of nuclear terrorism emanating from North Korea will continue to require a significant U.S. campaign to deter and prevent. Due to the inability of previous administrations to stop North Korea’s progress earlier, a nuclear-armed North Korea, with the capacity and perhaps willingness to sell, will remain a major challenge not only for Trump but for his successors.  ..."   National Defense University Fort Lesley J. McNair Washington, DC 20319-5066

  "National Defense University" >  :  

 "Fort Lesley J. McNair"

 "North Korean nuke test put at 160 kilotons as Ishiba urges debate on deploying U.S. atomic bombs"  

. The Japan Times. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017. 

41.26809 N, 129.08076 E   < tEST 3


41.29142 N, 129.08167 E < TEST 2


SOURCE:   (page44)
 "... Everyone knows the conflicts. They are veryimportant. But also:
■ The world’s greatest threat of nuclear war is North Korea 
 and there the Chinese goal of denuclearization overlaps 90–95 percent with ours.  

... (page 48)North Korea is quite another matter. If the North
Korean regime collapses suddenly (whether because
of COVID-19 or some other reason), will America
feel forced to move in to secure the loose nukes? Is
it likely that the PRC will watch unresponsively as
American-allied troops approach the Yalu again? Nor
can America count on the neutrality of Russia, which
shares a border with North Korea. Inept diplomacy
has brought together what Nixon-Kissinger pushed
asunder, viz, a Russia-PRC alignment.
... Managing this confrontation would be tricky
even at the best of times. Given the lack of trust on
both sides now, the situation will be dangerously
unstable. America’s Cold War adversary the Soviet
Union never fought Americans. Volunteers from
the People’s Liberation Army did, pushing the
American-led UN forces back to the 38th Parallel
during the Korean War in 1950-53.8
 This is stillremembered in the PRC, 
as the recent commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War
graphically demonstrates.9
... Using race as an electoral weapon is a tactic
as indiscriminate as carpet bombing. The electoral base on which Trump relied in his failed bid
for re-election unfortunately includes many who
cannot differentiate between Chinese from the PRC
and those from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,
Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the
UK, Canada, or even from the United States; or
indeed between Chinese and Japanese, Koreans, and
Vietnamese for that matter.
... One thing we must remember is that whenever we talk about using these tools, we are talking
about, “what does it take to get a foreign sovereign
to change a policy that for its own reasons it has
already decided is in its own national interests?”
This is not neutral territory. Whether we are discussing Iran or North Korea or any other country
subject to sanctions—they have made a decision on
what their national policy and their national interest
is. When we apply a sanctions regime, what we are
saying is, “We are going to inflict a burden on your
economy and the only way to relieve that burden is
to change the policy that we object to.” 
... (page 126) In the case of North Korea, there was a broad
sense that the regime would endure a lot of pain
imposed on the North Korean people. The only circle whose pain the leadership seems to care about is
the chain of command controlling the military and
the government, and they can afford to keep that circle sufficiently satisfied even with broad economic
damage to the country. Just causing pain broadly in
the economy of North Korea has not seemed to lead
to a change of policy. 
... The principal economic lifeline for North Korea
is China, and it is almost impossible to put maximum pressure on North Korea without China’s
involvement and cooperation. In terms of what we
knew about the weapons program in North Korea
over the eight years of the Obama Administration, it
was not until the last year that it became clear they
were starting to make meaningful progress in their
nuclear capabilities.
When we realized the advanced stage of the
North Korean nuclear program, we quickly went
to the UN and ratcheted up pressure on China
... (page 127) to cooperate by putting more pressure on North
Korea. The diplomatic approach caused China
to ratchet up pressure on the North Korea-China
border, and to support UN sanctions—less than
full cooperation but more than we had seen in
the past. We had partially overlapping strategic
interests with China; it was not really in China’s
interest for North Korea to be a nuclear power. On
the other hand, China’s greater strategic fear is a
unified Korean peninsula where the United States is
effectively across the river from them as part of the
security structure of a unified Korea.
China has a definite bias towards international
versus unilateral sanctions. The Chinese do not
recognize the legitimacy of unilateral sanctions, so
the UN provides a mechanism to get the Chinese
to be more willing to apply bilateral pressure. The
United States can impose unilateral sanctions
against North Korea, but with little impact because
there is virtually no trade between the United
States and North Korea and the dollar is not a
significant part of the North Korean economic system. If China does not limit the ability of Chinese
companies or cutouts of Chinese companies to
facilitate trade on the border, we do not have that
many points of leverage.
Over the last four years, U.S. policy with regard
to North Korea has been quite confused, as has our
policy with regard to China. As a result, there has
been little progress in slowing North Korea’s push to
implement a nuclear program.
With China it will always be necessary to prioritize different concerns; you cannot expect the
two major powers of the world to respond equally to
every concern. In 2016 we were moving North Korea
much higher on the list than it had been previously.
Earlier, in 2012, 2013, 2014, when the timeline on the
North Korean nuclear program seemed considerably
longer, we wanted to bring China into the Iran negotiations. We wanted to bring China into the Paris
Climate negotiations. We had a huge set of bilateral 
... In 2016-2017 North Korea jumped to the top of
the list because of the acceleration in North Korea’s
nuclear program. During the transition in 2016-
2017, this point was made very clear to the incoming
administration. If making progress on North Korea
had been prioritized over a trade war with China,
the Trump administration might have been able
to get more cooperation from China, putting the
kind of pressure on North Korea that could be more
effective. Conversely, starting up an odd bilateral
negotiation between the President of the United
States and a discredited leader of North Korea left
the whole world wondering what the United States
was trying to accomplish. 
... (page 142) Instead, Ike’s grand strategies were rooted in
ordinary, common-sense behaviors. Don’t dismantle the social safety net that FDR and Truman had
established on the one hand. Don’t think America
can create a European-style welfare state and still
lead the free world on the other. Keep America
strong, primarily through technological set-offs. But
don’t immerse Americans in far flung conflicts. In
fact, do everything possible to end them as soon as
possible, as Ike did in Korea.
Susan Eisenhower calls this Ike’s “middle way.”
It was, by definition, centrist, perhaps conservative with a small c, not really ideologically oriented.
... distinction drew the United States into unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where the issues
were peripheral and the costs immense. “Butter vs.
guns” addresses the trade-offs between spending on
military hardware and broader scientific research
and development. Here, he charts the lamentable
decline in American scientific and technological
innovation. “Allies or autocracy” is a condemnation
of the contemporary policy of going alone without
allies, and how that choice reduces American power
and security. “Persuasion or coercion” makes the
case for a diplomatic approach to resolving diplomatic crises. He illustrates his argument effectively
by drawing on earlier, successful diplomatic efforts
to contain the North Korean nuclear threat. “People
power vs. pinstripe rule” explores elite corruption as
the driver of insurrection, with extensive reference
to contemporary Afghanistan. “Open or closed” is
an argument for the reform and preservation of the
liberal international order as key to the renewal of
the American international position
... BOOK: Clearly argued, lucidly written, and well-documented, Andrew Imbrie’s Power on the
Precipice deserves a large audience, not just
of foreign affairs specialists but also of those concerned about America’s place in the world and how
to improve it. Imbrie is ambitious. In 205 printed
pages (plus notes), he addresses diplomatic challenges that any Washington administration will face
and suggests ways forward. In such a wide-ranging
work, area experts will question some of his analysis
and conclusions. Nevertheless, Imbrie should be
applauded as he seeks to persuade policymakers
and voters to think harder about different policy
choices and tradeoffs from the optic of the long term
rather than the short. Identifying national interests
and how to promote them is always a challenge, but
especially so in the United States, where the 24-hour
news cycle is supreme. Elections every 2 years result
in never-ending campaigning, and social media—
with all its superficialities—has become a news
source of choice for many, if not most.


 National Defense University Fort Lesley J. McNair Washington, DC 20319-5066

 "National Defense University" >  :  

 "Fort Lesley J. McNair"

NEWS | May 15, 2018
Nuclear Terrorism: Did We Beat the Odds or Change Them?
By Dr. Graham Allison PRISM Volume 7, no. 3
 [ Dr. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard Kennedy School.] 
...Even if Trump succeeds in halting Kim’s progress short of a credible ICBM threat to the U.S. homeland, which seems unlikely at this point, the threat of nuclear terrorism emanating from North Korea will continue to require a significant U.S. campaign to deter and prevent. Due to the inability of previous administrations to stop North Korea’s progress earlier, a nuclear-armed North Korea, with the capacity and perhaps willingness to sell, will remain a major challenge not only for Trump but for his successors.  ..."

 "North Korean nuke test put at 160 kilotons as Ishiba urges debate on deploying U.S. atomic bombs"  

. The Japan Times. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.

41.26809 N, 129.08076 E   < tEST 3


41.29142 N, 129.08167 E < TEST 2







 "North" "Korea" "underground "tunnel" system :: )

How Kim Jong-un will vanish into a massive network of caves in the event of  nuclear war… and there's enough emmental in there to feed his cheese  addiction for a lifetime


North Korea's nuclear tests series tests and detonations
Sequence Date time (UT) Local time zone[note 1][7] Location Elevation + height Delivery Yield [note 2] Fallout [note 3] References
Location of North Hamgyong Province
9 October 2006 01:35:27 KST
(+9 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.28505°N 129.1084°E 1,340 m (4,400 ft), −310 m (−1,020 ft) underground 0.7 - 2 kt [8]

got it test 2
25 May 2009 00:54:43 KST
(+9 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.29142°N 129.08167°E 1,340 m (4,400 ft), −490 m (−1,610 ft) underground 2 - 5.4 kt [11][12]

google EARTH
12 February 2013 02:57:51 KST
(+9 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.26809°N 129.08076°E 1,340 m (4,400 ft), −1,000 m (−3,300 ft) underground 6 - 16 kt [11][13]
(4) 6 January 2016 01:30:01 PYT
(+8:30 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.30900°N 129.03399°E 1,340 m (4,400 ft), −1,000 m (−3,300 ft) underground 7 - 16.5 kt [15][16]
(5) 9 September 2016 00:30:01 PYT
(+8:30 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.298°N 129.015°E[note 4] 1,340 m (4,400 ft), −1,000 m (−3,300 ft) underground 15 - 25 kt [19][20][21]

3 September 2017 03:30:01.940 PYT
(+8:30 hrs)
Punggye-ri Test Site, North Korea 41.343°N 129.036°E 1,340 m (4,400 ft), 0 m (0 ft) underground 70 - 280 kt [25][26][27][28][29][30]

Summary^  :::  To convert the UT time into standard local, add the number of hours in parentheses to the UT time; for local daylight saving time, add one additional hour. If the result is earlier than 00:00, add 24 hours and subtract 1 from the day; if it is 24:00 or later, subtract 24 hours and add 1 to the day. North Korea changed from UTC+9 hours to UTC+8:30 hours on 15 August 2015. All historical time zone data are derived from here:

  1. ^ Estimated energy yield in tons, kilotons, and megatons. A ton of TNT equivalent is defined as 4.184 gigajoules (1 gigacalorie).
  2. ^ Radioactive emission to the atmosphere aside from prompt neutrons, where known. The measured species is only iodine-131 if mentioned, otherwise it is all species. No entry means unknown, probably none if underground and "all" if not; otherwise notation for whether measured on the site only or off the site, where known, and the measured amount of radioactivity released.
  3. ^ Location from seismic data, about 6.4 km west northwest Punggye-ri and locus of previous tests.


North Korea showed an interest in developing nuclear weapons since the 1950s.[sources]  
 < Map of detonations

The NK "nuclear program" can be traced back to about 1962, when North Korea committed itself to what it called "all-fortressization", which was the beginning of the hyper-militarized North Korea of today.[12][13] In 1963, North Korea asked the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons, but was refused. The Soviet Union agreed to help North Korea develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, including the training of nuclear scientists. Later, China, after its nuclear tests, similarly rejected North Korean requests for help with developing nuclear weapons.[14]

Soviet engineers took part in the construction of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center[15] and began construction of an IRT-2000 research reactor in 1963, which became operational in 1965 and was upgraded to 8 MW in 1974.[16] In 1979, North Korea began to build a second research reactor in Yongbyon, as well as an ore processing plant and a fuel rod fabrication plant.[17]

North Korea's nuclear weapons program dates back to the 1980s. Focusing on practical uses of nuclear energy and the completion of a nuclear weapon development system, North Korea began to operate facilities for uranium fabrication and conversion, and conducted high-explosive detonation tests.[13] In 1985 North Korea ratified the NPT but did not include the required safeguards agreement with the IAEA until 1992.[18] In early 1993, while verifying North Korea's initial declaration, the IAEA concluded that there was strong evidence this declaration was incomplete. When North Korea refused the requested special inspection, the IAEA reported its noncompliance to the UN Security Council. In 1993, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT, but suspended that withdrawal before it took effect.[18]

Under the 1994 Agreed Framework, the U.S. government agreed to facilitate the supply of two light water reactors to North Korea in exchange for North Korean disarmament.[19][20] Such reactors are considered "more proliferation-resistant than North Korea's graphite-moderated reactors",[21] but not "proliferation proof".[22] The Agreed Framework was undermined by a Republican Congress during Clinton's presidency, as Congress denounced the agreement with North Korea, imposed new sanctions on North Korea, and hindered the Clinton administration from providing the supplies to North Korea that were part of the Agreed Framework.[23] Implementation of the Agreed Framework foundered, and in 2002 the Agreed Framework fell apart, with each side blaming the other for its failure. By 2002, Pakistan had admitted that North Korea had gained access to Pakistan's nuclear technology in the late 1990s.[24]

Based on evidence from Pakistan, Libya, and multiple confessions from North Korea itself, the United States accused North Korea of noncompliance and halted oil shipments; North Korea later claimed its public confession of guilt had been deliberately misconstrued. By the end of 2002, the Agreed Framework was officially abandoned.

In 2003, North Korea again announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[18] In 2005, it admitted to having nuclear weapons but vowed to close the nuclear program.[25][26]

On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced it had successfully conducted its first nuclear test. An underground nuclear explosion was detected, its yield was estimated as less than a kiloton, and some radioactive output was detected.[27][28][29] On January 6, 2007, the North Korean government further confirmed that it had nuclear weapons.[30]

On March 17, 2007, North Korea told delegates at international nuclear talks that it was preparing to shut down its main nuclear facility. The agreement was reached following a series of six-party talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States begun in 2003. According to the agreement, a list of its nuclear programs would be submitted and the nuclear facility would be disabled in exchange for fuel aid and normalization talks with the United States and Japan.[citation needed] This was delayed from April due to a dispute with the United States over Banco Delta Asia, but on July 14, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors confirmed the shutdown of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor and consequently North Korea began to receive aid.[31] This agreement fell apart in 2009, following a North Korean satellite launch.

In April 2009, reports surfaced that North Korea has become a "fully fledged nuclear power", an opinion shared by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.[32] On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted a second nuclear test, resulting in an explosion estimated to be between 2 and 7 kilotons.[33] The 2009 test, like the 2006 test, is believed to have occurred at Mantapsan, Kilju County, in the north-eastern part of North Korea. This was found by an earthquake occurring at the test site.[34]

In February 2012, North Korea announced that it would suspend uranium enrichment at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center and not conduct any further tests of nuclear weapons while productive negotiations involving the United States continue. This agreement included a moratorium on long-range missile tests. Additionally, North Korea agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to monitor operations at Yongbyon. The United States reaffirmed that it had no hostile intent toward the DPRK and was prepared to improve bilateral relationships, and agreed to ship humanitarian food aid to North Korea.[35][36][37] The United States called the move "important, if limited", but said it would proceed cautiously and that talks would resume only after North Korea made steps toward fulfilling its promise.[35] However, after North Korea conducted a long-range missile test in April 2012, the United States decided not to proceed with the food aid.[38]

On February 11, 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey detected a magnitude 5.1 seismic disturbance,[39] reported to be a third underground nuclear test.[40] North Korea has officially reported it as a successful nuclear test with a lighter warhead that delivers more force than before, but has not revealed the exact yield. Multiple South Korean sources estimate the yield at 6–9 kilotons, while the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources estimates the yield at 40 kilotons.[41][42][43] However, the German estimate has since been revised to a yield equivalent of 14 kt when they published their estimations in January 2016.[44]

On January 6, 2016 in Korea, the United States Geological Survey detected a magnitude 5.1 seismic disturbance,[45] reported to be a fourth underground nuclear test.[citation needed] North Korea claimed that this test involved a hydrogen bomb. This claim has not been verified.[46] As described below, a "hydrogen bomb" could mean one of several degrees of weapon, ranging from enhanced fission devices to true thermonuclear weapons.

Within hours, many nations and organizations had condemned the test.[47] Expert U.S. analysts do not believe that a hydrogen bomb was detonated. Seismic data collected so far suggests a 6–9 kiloton yield and that magnitude is not consistent with the power that would be generated by a hydrogen bomb explosion. "What we're speculating is they tried to do a boosted nuclear device, which is an atomic bomb that has a little bit of hydrogen, an isotope in it called tritium," said Joseph Cirincione, president of the global security firm Ploughshares Fund.[48] The German source which estimates for all the North Korea's past nuclear test has instead made an initial estimation of 14 kt, which is about the same (revised) yield as its previous nuclear test in 2013.[44] However, the yield estimation for January 2016 nuclear test was revised to 10 kt in the subsequent nuclear test from North Korea.[49]

On February 7, 2016, roughly a month after the alleged hydrogen bomb test, North Korea claimed to have put a satellite into orbit around the Earth. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had warned the North to not launch the rocket, and if it did and the rocket violated Japanese territory, it would be shot down. Nevertheless, North Korea launched the rocket anyway, leading the United States, Japan, and South Korea to criticize the launch. Despite North Korean claims that the rocket was for peaceful, scientific purposes, it has been heavily criticized as an attempt to perform an ICBM test under the guise of a satellite launch. China also criticized the launch, however urged "the relevant parties" to "refrain from taking actions that may further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula".[50]

A fifth nuclear test occurred on September 9, 2016. This test yield is considered the highest among all five tests thus far, surpassing its previous record in 2013. The South Korean government said that the yield was about 10 kt[51] despite other sources suggesting a 20 to 30 kt yield.[52] The same German source which has made estimation of all North Korea's previous nuclear tests suggested an estimation of a 25 kiloton yield.[49]

Other nations and the United Nations have responded to North Korea's ongoing missile and nuclear development with a variety of sanctions; on March 2, 2016, the UN Security Council voted to impose additional sanctions against North Korea.[53]

In 2017, North Korea test-launched two ICBMs, the second of which had sufficient range to reach the continental United States.[54] In September 2017, the country announced a further "perfect" hydrogen bomb test.

North Korea's stated policy position is that nuclear weapons "will never be abused or used as a means for preemptive strike", but if there is an "attempt to have recourse to military force against us" North Korea may use their "most powerful offensive strength in advance to punish them".  This is not a full no first use policy.[55]


The document describes Kim’s aspiration to rule the world with nuclear weapons. “The dear supreme commander will dominate the world with the nuclear weapons, will make the U.S. apologize and compensate for us for decades of bullying our people, and will declare to the entire world that the world’s powerful order will be reshaped by the Juche-Korea, not the United States,” according to the document.

The American broadcast news source NBC reported 29 July 2018 that North Korea had increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months. While citing US intelligence agencies, NBC also said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the US. NBC News said that the intelligence assessment seemed to counter the sentiments expressed by President Donald Trump, referring to his Twitter posts that claimed there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea after his 12 June 2018 summit with Kim. The White House did not immediately respond to the news report. "There's no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production," one official told NBC.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) chided President Trump's claims that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat amid reports that the country is ramping up its nuclear fuel production. Skeptics of the meeting noted that Trump signed an agreement that provided concessions without receiving a concrete commitment to a timeline and method for irreversible denuclearization. They also pointed out that North Korea has made similar agreements in the past, only to renege.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un signed a brief declaration at the Singapore summit 12 June 2018, short and vague, with few details on how Pyongyang would denuclearize or how the US would verify steps toward that goal. Trump assured reporters after the summit that US and international inspectors would monitor North Korea's commitment this time around, but it remained noteworthy that the two sides did not include that detail in the final declaration.

"North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons easily, if at all," said Evans J.R. Revere, an expert at the Brooking Institute in Washington and a former US State Department official. "North Korea wants to resuscitate the approach it pursued in every previous nuclear negotiation: Launch a lengthy, complicated negotiation to get agreement on actions each party must take, and use this process to buy time for the development of the North's nuclear weapons program," he said.

There had been mixed messages coming out of the White House. On 25 June 2018, the US Secretary of State said there is no timeline being given to North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. But just two weeks before, he said that he expected North Korea to denuclearize by 2020, the end of President Trump's first term.

Since the end of the Kim-Trump summit, North Korea had not shown any visible sign that it has begun the process of denuclearization. But it does seem like it will send back the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War, as part of the agreement that was reached between the two leaders. Although North Korea's pledge to denuclearize was progressing slowly, the U.S. and South Korea halted their joint-military drills for the next few months. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was in Seoul, meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo.

The two Koreas were really pushing ahead with exploring joint activities and ventures, such as connecting railways, separated family reunions, and joint basketball games. But there was some criticism that by doing this South Korea is effectively easing pressure on North Korea, when so far the regime has shown little progress towards denuclearization.

New satellite imagery showed North Korea had made rapid improvements to the infrastructure at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center -- a facility used to produce weapons-grade fissile material, according to an analysis published by 38 North, a prominent North Korea monitoring group. Captured on 21 June 2018, the photos reveal modifications to the site's plutonium production reactor and the construction of several support facilities -- long-planned upgrades that were already underway before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met in Singapore.

In 2007, just one year after its first nuclear test, North Korea agreed to deactivate the reactor following 6-party talks with South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States. However, the isolated nation changed its mind in 2015. The state-run media announced that all nuclear facilities, including a uranium enrichment plant and an experimental reactor, had been restarted.

The Washington Post reported 08 August 2017 that the Defense Intelligence Agency assessed that North Korea had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. “The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, in an excerpt read to The Washington Post. Another intelligence assessment sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the DPRK’s atomic arsenal at up to 60 nuclear weapons. Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, had calculated the size of North Korea’s arsenal at no more than 20 to 25 bombs.

James Clapper, former U.S. director of national intelligence for the Barack Obama administration, said 03 July 2017 that North Korean denuclearization was no longer achievable and that Washington should focus on capping its nuclear and missile capabilities. Clapper said he could attest from first-hand experience in North Korea during his trip there in November 2014 that Pyongyang will not give up its nuclear arsenal. “Would be nice if they did, would be great if we could figure out some incentive to motivate them to give up their nuclear weapons, but they’re not going to do that,” said Clapper. “That’s their ticket to survival. It’s how they create deterrence against attacks against them, which they are very afraid of, and it’s how they have leverage, how they have face.”  ..."